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Our Place in the Modern World of Information

Our Place in the Modern World of Information

Among oil, precious metals, land, freedom, and many other commodities, information
is gaining a more dominant role in human society as it is steadily
moving into the 21st century. Resultly is an information technology
company, and it is important to us to understand our place and role in
the evolution of information from the historical perspective.

As our civilization rose from its cradle, we, humans, experienced the
necessity of passing knowledge from generation to generation. This
necessity first realized itself in the form of ancient petroglyphs that
keep puzzling
contemporary scholars to this day. Rock art was the earliest form of
written communication and as a first iteration of any system, it had its
significant limitations. Firstly, it took a long time to compose a
message, and the message was accessible only by those who were able to
be within the immediate vicinity of it. The information stored this way
was difficult to spread. This form of communication was immobile and
information retrieval was impractical if possible at all.

With the invention of smaller writing media and writing implements, the
mobility problem was partially solved. Ancient papyrus scrolls, wax and
clay tablets, and later paper and hand written books were passed from
person to person, from generation to generation. Although the
information stored this way became easier to share and retrieve, it was
still difficult to spread among a large population primarily due to the
difficulties related to transportation of media and replication of the
content. Papyrus, vellum, and paper were expensive, and it took a long
time to make a copy. The media was mainly concentrated in a few
repositories such as tombs, temples, and libraries. An important
achievement of this step of the evolution, however, is the formation of
first formal writing systems.

Centuries passed by and the first printing press was invented, and the
first incunabula were produced. These events marked the beginning of a
new era of the evolution of the information. Book production was no
longer a manual labor, and it eventually allowed printing in large
scale, making the information accessible to the population at large.
Besides books, printing gave rise to such media as newspapers,
magazines, and almanacs. Although recording and sharing of information
increased, it was still limited by the speed of physical printing and
distribution of the printed material.

With the scientific boom of the industrial age, the amount of
information human kind produced skyrocketed requiring tools to
systematically collect, catalog, and reference our knowledge. The first
such tool was an
encyclopedia. Scientific progress, however, does not remain still. New hypotheses are
put forward, tested, falsified, generalized, and new discoveries are
made. We realized that our knowledge is dynamic, and it changes faster
than we can print it. Textbooks become outdated and printed
encyclopedias become irrelevant. We felt the need for a more flexible
medium to store knowledge. A medium that would be dynamic, would be easy
to access, update and easy to share.

The invention of the first semiconductor and, a few decades later, the adoption of
digital technology by general masses gave start to the Digital Age.
World Wide Web and the Internet became the collective medium to store
knowledge. For the past decade, the number of Internet users grew by
500% and as of 2012, one-third of the world’s population have access to
the Internet. Everyone can generate, retrieve and store information. The
term Encyclopedia gained a new meaning. Online knowledge repositories
such as Wikipedia are designed to handle
the dynamic nature of the information contained in them.

The amount of data produced and stored during the Millennia preceding
the Digital Age is negligible compared to the past couple of decades.
Because of the vastness of the information stored online, locating it
had become a challenge. In 2004, Google formulated its
mission
to organize the
information online, and the company built the first comprehensive search
engine. Many companies followed suit and offered their own solutions for
organizing the information. Discovering and locating data became a
matter of a few clicks.

All search engines today achieve remarkable coverage of all online resources by the
process known as web crawling. The best search engines cover the entire
web in matter of a few days. At Resultly, we realize in the rapidly
changing ocean of information, where deals change by the day, where news
breaks by the minute, where prices change by the second, stock markets
plunge in a blink of an eye, one day old data becomes worthless. There
is a need for a new kind of a search engine, one that can capture our
rapidly changing information world as the changes occur. Here at
Resultly, we call it Real Time Search, and we believe it will be the
next big chapter in the information age.

Article by Resultly

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